What is distracted driving?
Reaching for something, changing the radio station or dealing nagging kids at the back, you’ll need to avoid all situations that distract you from driving starting 2019. In Ontario, it’s illegal to drive while talking, texting, dialing or using any hand-held communication or entertainment device. Portable music players, laptops and mobile phones often cause distractions when behind the wheel. Drivers can also be convicted of distracted driving when found using makeup, eating or playing games or engaging in any activity that takes their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.
Fines for distracted driving
The new road rules impose hefty penalties on anyone convicted of distracted driving. Convicted drivers now face a minimum fine of $490, three demerit points and 3-day license suspension, which is a significant rise from the initially set minimum of $280 in Ontario. The maximum fine is set at $1000. Second offenders can be fined $2000 minimum with a 7-day license suspension. If convicted of distracted driving for the third time, you face a fine of $3000, a 30-day license suspension and six demerit points.
Novice drivers convicted of distracted driving aren’t left behind either. Drivers with G1 or G2 license could face a 30-90 day suspension if convicted of distracted driving for the first or second time. Any driver with G1 or G2 license can have their license canceled if convicted for distracted driving for the third time.
Motorists who hit cyclists and vehicles with the door
Motorists in Ontario will have to be extra cautious to avoid hitting passing cyclists and other vehicles with car doors. Cyclists can be seriously injured as they try to swerve to avoid opening car doors. The new regulation is intended to protect people who bike on the city streets. If a crash occurs due to an opened door, the offender faces a minimum fine of $365 and three demerit points. This is an increase from the previous minimum fine of $60.
Hefty penalties on impaired driving
The recent legalization of Cannabis in Ontario has forced the OPP and MTO to take a serious look at the penalties imposed for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. These penalties have been revised to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Beginning 2019, police officers in Ontario are allowed by law to demand a breathalyser or saliva test from any driver, whether or not they suspect that the said driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Any driver who refuses to take any of the tests will be fined $550.
The law demands that novice drivers should maintain a zero blood alcohol level and if found with Cannabis or any other drug in their system, they will be penalized.
Other new fines Ontario drivers now face
- Failure to carry a driver’s license: $85
- Driving a vehicle without valid car insurance: First offense fines start at $5000 and could be as high as $25,000. You also risk a license suspension.
- Running a red light: The fine could be as high as $400 if you are in a safety zone or as low as $260. You could also pay additional costs such as $60 victim fine surcharge.
- Speeding: Speeding tickets are issued depending on how much faster you were driving. If driving from 1-19km over, you will receive a fine of $2.50 per km/h over the speed limit. The penalties when speeding in a community safety zone are even higher; the fine increases to about $5.00 per km/h. If driving from 20-34km over the speed limit, you face a fine of $3.75 per km/h. The fine is also higher if you are in a community safety zone. It increases to $7.50 – $12.00 per km/h.
- Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign: Going through a red light or a stop sign without stopping is an offense. If found guilty, you face a fine of $85.
- Failure to stop for a school bus with red flashing lights: It is illegal to fail to stop for a school bus that has its red lights flashing. If caught, first-time offenders will pay a fine of $400, and it can go as high as $2000.
- Failure to wear a seatbelt: If you get a ticket for failure to wear a seatbelt, you could pay $200 in fines.
- Failure to buckle a child under age 16: If you are driving, you can be convicted if you or any of your passengers under the age of 16 is not wearing a seatbelt or secured in a proper car seat. You face fines between $200 and $1000 and two demerit points. These demerit points will remain in your driving record for years.
- Carpool lane violation: The penalty for improper use of carpool lanes, also known as HOV lanes, is a fine of $110 and 3 demerit points.
These new road rules in Ontario have certainly made the region the safest in North America. Ontario now has the toughest penalties for repeat distracted driving convictions. This is expected to make our roads safer and protect motorists, pedestrians and other road users from careless driving.